politically correct

[ puh-lit-ik-lee kuh-rekt ]
/ pəˈlɪt ɪk li kəˈrɛkt /


marked by or adhering to a typically progressive orthodoxy on issues involving especially ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or ecology: The actor’s comment about unattractive women was not politically correct.The CEO feels that people who care about being politically correct are overly sensitive. Abbreviations: PC, P.C.

Origin of politically correct

1790–95 (in the sense “in accordance with established norms”); 1970–75 for the more recent meaning, which evolved from earlier Communist uses in the 1920s

Related forms

political correctness, noun

Word story

Since entering English in the late 1700s, the term politically correct has undergone several shifts in meaning. Originally, the term was used to describe something that was in accordance with established political, legal, or social norms or conventions. The 1870s saw the introduction of the opposite term, politically incorrect , a useful addition to the language, considering how commonly politically correct was and still is used in negative constructions.
Somewhat grimly, in the 1920s the Soviet Communist Party began using the concept of political correctness to enforce strict adherence to the party line in all aspects of life. It you were unfortunate enough to be deemed politically incorrect , you were likely to be exiled to a gulag, or worse.
Today the term politically correct (and its abbreviation PC ), more often than not, refers specifically to the language that surrounds controversial or hot-button issues. Liberals have used the negative construction not politically correct to draw attention to words, phrases, or statements that they felt were socially unacceptable or insensitive. The conservative response to this has been to question and generally reject the notion of political correctness , arguing that it too often entails “the policing of language.” As a result, critics of the term politically correct often use it to modify nouns such as “euphemism,” “nonsense,” “hogwash,” and “propaganda.”
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for politically correct

politically correct


demonstrating progressive ideals, esp by avoiding vocabulary that is considered offensive, discriminatory, or judgmental, esp concerning race and genderAbbreviation: PC

Derived Forms

political correctness, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Idioms and Phrases with politically correct

politically correct

Also, PC or p.c. Showing an effort to make broad social and political changes to redress injustices caused by prejudice. It often involves changing or avoiding language that might offend anyone, especially with respect to gender, race, or ethnic background. For example, Editors of major papers have sent out numerous directives concerning politically correct language. This expression was born in the late 1900s, and excesses in trying to conform to its philosophy gave rise to humorous parodies.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.